Humbert Humbert’s Underlying Misogyny in Lolita College

Humbert Humbert, the narrator of Vladimir Nabokov’s infamous yet beautifully written Lolita, is considered by most readers to be a pedophile due to his adoration of underage girls, whom he calls “nymphets.” The eponymous nymphet, Lolita, is, of course, Humbert’s main fixation, so the majority of the text is devoted to describing his interactions with her. However, a few descriptions of other, fully-grown women can be found in Part One of Lolita. Two of the novel’s most prominent female characters, other than Lolita, are Valeria, Humbert’s first wife, and Charlotte Haze, Lolita’s mother and Humbert’s second wife. Humbert’s descriptions of these women ultimately reveal that he is a misogynist as well as a pedophile. Not only does Humbert seem to have a sense of utter disdain for women, but he views them in only two ways: as irritating obstacles in the way of his desires, or as objects that can be used to help him get what he truly wants.

Humbert’s portrayal of Valeria in chapters seven and eight of Part One is an early sign of his contempt for women. Shortly into Valeria’s introduction, Humbert not-so humbly mentions that he “could obtain at the snap of [his] fingers any adult female” to be his wife (25, emphasis added). Aside...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 921 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7292 literature essays, 2058 sample college application essays, 302 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in